I know a teenager who lives here in Arlington, Virginia and his father has lived on the West Coast since he was three. His father works hard at his law practice and typically does not see his son on Father’s Day.
With Father’s Day looming this year, this teenager decided not to dwell on his absent father. He was spending time with his friends the day before Father’s Day, and they were all talking about summertime, fast approaching now that school activities were winding down, projects were completed, exams were taken, and sports and theater seasons had just ended. Usually, during the school year all of these teenagers are over-committed with extra-curricular activities, community events, volunteer projects, sports, and jobs.
This teenager found out that, to his surprise, several of his friends had dads who were going to be out of town for Father’s Day. So he organized a day of fun with them. They hung out, threw around a frisbee, went biking, went to Trader Joe’s to get snacks, and celebrated the sunshine and lack of rain on the roof of a friend’s apartment building.
Then this teenager brought three of his friends to a cookout at his house along with his mother, his sisters, his sisters' boyfriends, his stepbrother, his stepsister, and his stepfather. There was a lot of food – burgers, sausage, chicken, peaches – all grilled by his stepfather. There were chips and guacamole, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables from the farmer’s market, hummus, salad, and brownies for dessert.
The teenager went down to the basement after dinner with his friends and later in the evening, the moms started arriving to pick up the friends. But to the delight of all of the teenagers, the moms stayed for conversation and to have a couple glasses of wine. By the time everyone headed home, it was 11:00 p.m., and the day had been an unexpectedly perfect one.
Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.